Background: Small bowel ulceration is an increasingly recognised complication of therapy with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). The ulceration is a potent site of blood loss contributing to unexplained iron deficiency anaemia in patients with arthritis. No drug is currently available to treat NSAID small bowel ulcers.
Methods: We have retrospectively examined the effect of therapy with the prostaglandin E1 analogue misoprostol on the anaemia of patients with enteroscopically proven NSAID small bowel enteropathy.
Results: All of the patients had proven iron deficiency anaemia. Eleven patients received misoprostol and ten received no treatment. Haemoglobin in the misoprostol-treated group rose significantly from median (range) 9.1 (6.2-10.6) g/dL (95% confidence intervals 8.76, 10.13) to 10.6 (6.5-16.8) g/dL (95% confidence intervals 10.06, 11.82); P = 0.004). Those patients who did not receive misoprostol had no significant change in their haemoglobin: 9.1 (7.5-10.6) g/dL to 8.1 (5.6-14.7) g/dL (P = N.S.).
Conclusion: Misoprostol therapy was associated with an improvement in the anaemia in patients with proven NSAID enteropathy.